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On Jan. 1, Mary Andersen turned 50. Her family wasn't able to help her celebrate though. They haven't seen her in 26 years and have no idea where she is, or worse, if she's even alive. "She was always going," Wendy Ketter, Frazee, said. She added that her sister was always coming and going from the area, but she always called their parents, Wilfred and Eileen Andersen, to check in from time to time. "She had her problems, but everybody does," she said. "She'd always call to talk to Mom and Dad." The last time the family heard from Andersen, it was 1982 and she was living in Wyoming.
St. Mary's Innovis Health welcomed its first baby of 2009 at 9:54 a.m. Sherry Sargent, Naytahwaush, gave birth to her third child, a boy, on Jan. 1. Dade Marcel Keezer was 7 pounds, 6 ounces and 19 inches long. His father is Dustin Lee Keezer Sr. Complete with a full head of black hair, Dade is being showered with attention and gifts. The hospital outfitted him in a New Year's shirt and hat and a basket including a digital thermometer. Sargent and her new baby will also receive a basket of goodies from the hospital gift shop. Sargent said her original due date was Jan.
Thirty-two years ago, Stu Omberg received a call from Larry Buboltz. Buboltz was running for Detroit Lakes City Council, and he decided Omberg's property at Willow Street and Wilson Avenue was the key location for a campaign sign. "Because of that one sign, that sole reason, Larry got elected," Omberg joked. Four years later, Buboltz called Omberg to ask him if he still had the large, homemade sign.
2008 saw some major news items throughout the year. From high profile elections to an LP-A school building bond failing to an effort to revoke a referendum in Frazee-Vergas. The Becker County Courthouse expanded in 2008, as did St. Mary's Innovis Health and Emmanuel Community, and the year saw a few high profile cases as well. In no particular order, here are the highlights, and lowlights, of news events surrounding the Becker County area this year.
The U.S. government has released its official report of nursing home inspections. The 25-mile radius of Detroit Lakes hosts five nursing homes -- St. Mary's Innovis Health, Emmanuel Nursing Home, Frazee Care Center, Sunnyside Care Center and Perham Memorial Home.
A need was expressed and the public responded -- in full force. The demand at the Becker County Food Pantry has been increasing more and more, in large part due to the decreasing economy. And because of that demand increase, the Food Pantry had to cut back its supply to be able to help everyone in need. "That's pretty much the way it is. More people are aware ... we really need food," the Food Pantry's Alice Hammer said.
After more than 25 years of clearing and constructing, the North Country National Scenic Trail has entered Becker County. "It's very much a work in progress," said Matthew Davis, regional trail coordinator for Minnesota and North Dakota.
The Shawn and Tresa Ohman family are celebrating Christmas in their new house. The latest recipients of a Habitat for Humanity house, the family was able to move in, and their house was dedicated on Sunday. "It's bitterly cold out, and it's hard to move in the dead of winter," Shawn Ohman said. "But it's the best Christmas present we've ever had, that's for sure." "That was our goal, to get them in by Christmas time, and several of us didn't think we'd make it, but everything came together and we got it done," said Steve Hanson, Habitat for Humanity of the Detroit Lakes Area president.
The snow has fallen and it's time, or was time a few days ago by now, to dust off the shovel and welcome in winter. This year, Detroit Lakes residents are asked to do it a little quicker and better, though. "The biggest difference with the new policy is that the city can respond to sidewalk ice and snow complaints in a timely manner and it allows the city to recoup costs associated with the removal of the nuisance," Public Works Director Brad Green said. The Detroit Lakes City Council passed the ice and snow nuisance ordinance late last winter season in the early spring.
After roughly nine hours of deliberation, the jury came back Wednesday afternoon to find Robert Briard not guilty of all criminal sexual conduct charges. Before the verdict was read, Judge Peter Irvine instructed the audience that this was "an emotional case for everyone but behave yourselves when the verdict is read. I expect you to act like adults." The courtroom was split with prosecution supporters on one side and the Briard family on the other. After the verdict was read, there were tears and hugging on both sides of the aisle.